- Overall use of online editor and desktop software
- Over 100 preset, downloadable templates
- Various sizes, papers, covers, and extras
- Exceptional value for money
- Countless promotions and coupons
- Super-fast, cost-friendly worldwide shipping
- Login and logout of online editor
- Limited app and browser version
- Incoherent pairing of themes and covers
While it might be easy to hear ‘Photobook America’ and think of stars and stripes, apple pie and the Statue of Liberty, it is actually very much an international company. It is based in Malaysia, where it creates and ships out its photo books. But that’s not the only sleight of hand in its name, since it offers so much more than just photo books, too, covering everything from cards and calendars to notebooks and stationery. All of these are customizable, but naturally its photo books can be tailored and tweaked the most with a wide range of options available in any of the three editor tools – all of which are available in 19 languages.
Surprisingly, Photobook America guarantees 100% customer satisfaction for purchases, and considering it includes some of the best prices on the market – which can be further sweetened with its countless coupons and discounts – that’s probably not a challenge. The fact that orders are printed and delivered within seven business days to anywhere in the world, however, only helps solidify this as one of the strongest services in the world… and not only America.
Photobook America truly pays attention to its customers thanks to the variability of programs available. There is the mobile-friendly online editor for blank books and those built with preset templates, and a downloadable program – which is a perfect substitute to the online builder. It’s also worth mentioning that there is a Photobook app available for iOS and Android devices, but due to its limited nature – that only allows a few things to be customized in the would-be book – it’s far from being as complete as the other editors.
Sadly, the online editor suffers from some issues, too. When used from mobile browsers the program only allows you to select blank photo books, the editing of which can be a nightmare from devices with smaller screens, as there is no way to zoom in to the project. However, it’s nowhere near as annoying as the fact that projects can only be started or continued after a second login is made, while finishing or putting aside work-in-progress books is only possible when proceeding to the order screen. And we haven’t even mentioned the lack of an autosave feature and the software’s inability to automatically adjust pictures to their respective photo boxes.
Thankfully, however, these are the only issues with the online builder, which has a logically laid out interface and provides all sorts of professional features that will make even less tech-savvy users feel like professional photo book editors. This is best demonstrated by the many adjustment options available for the photos, whether that’s as simple as dragging and dropping them into place, rotating or cropping them or enhancing them with attractive masks, borders, filters, and more. The process can be made all the quicker with the autofill feature, where pictures stored in your Photobook America account, your device, or on your Facebook page can all be automatically added into the book.
This depth of control is true for everything else, too, as seen in the seamless management of text boxes, backgrounds, layouts, and embellishments. But still, one of the best attributes of the online software is the option to change the book’s size and cover retroactively.
As for the downloadable software, it’s basically an exact replica of the online editor in every aspect but its appearance. There is one huge difference, however, since the desktop version has slightly better tools and customization options. For example, through this program it’s possible to add photos from more sources, shape and frame them in various ways, and turn on such extras like rulers, guides, grids, and a text-only virtual assistant.
With Photobook America it’ll be impossible to find the right theme, since the company offers 130 different styles – or “readybooks” as they are called by the company – and categories covering everything from travel and wedding to holidays and romance. Although all of these themes are available for both the online editor and the downloadable software, it’s worth mentioning that in order to be able to use these readybooks in the desktop program they have to first be downloaded one by one from the company’s site.
And that’s not the only problem when it comes to styles. For starters, once the theme is chosen it cannot be changed unless you scrap the ongoing project. And then there is the issue with pairing themes with different book types. For instance, choosing an image wrap hard cover reduces the number of available readybooks to 102, while books with the popular layflat pages can only be built by choosing from 33.
Photobook America’s photo books are available in square, landscape or portrait shapes, all of which can be printed in many sizes and can be ordered with either standard or layflat photo papers. The smallest and most cost-friendly product is the 6×6 book, which is only available with a soft cover, while the largest product is an XL Landscape photo book with a size of 17.5×12. However, according to the company, the most popular book is the medium landscape one, measuring 8.5×11.
Although the list of available sizes is indeed impressive, it’s the cover that decides everything in the end since not all book sizes are available with all cover types. For instance, soft cover books only come in sizes 8×6, 8×11, 8×8, and 6×6, but it’s the hardcover image wrap books that offer the biggest variety.
Despite that limitation, however, there is still a decent variety in covers, as Photobook America products can be ordered with leather, buckram, and cambric covers. There’s even the option to further customize books by upgrading them with options like a debossed cover with a hole that shows off your best picture, blind stamping for depression into the cover or silver foil fonts. For a real treat it’s also possible to put the whole book into a slipcase or a presentation box.
Unlike many other photo printing companies, the photo books of Photobook America arrive in a cardboard envelope that, despite being shipped from Malaysia, is sturdier than it looks and can indeed keep the photo book safe until its arrival. To ensure that the book is not damaged, though, Photobook America also wraps its products in clear wrapping and, as a nice surprise, adds a discount flyer to the order, too.
As for the photo book itself, the company deserves praise in this regard, since its books are created with the highest level of quality. For starters, hardcover books are printed with a matte cover by default, which not only gives the book a more refined appearance, but it’s also pleasant to touch. The default pages of the book, on the other hand, are glossy, rigid and fingerprint-resistant – which is especially important – that further increase the overall quality of the book, as well as keep photos beautiful and vibrant for years to come.
There are two things that could ruin the experience, though. The fact that colored text may appear a bit blurry is, thankfully, little more than a nuisance, but placing a barcoded sticker on the book itself that leaves glue residue once removed, however, is a huge oversight.
Due to the various pricing options offered by Photobook America, finding the ideal size with the right cover combination can take some time. Thankfully, though, the base prices of photo books can easily be remembered.
An 8×8 size photo book with soft cover, for instance, costs $29.99. This may seem quite outrageous at first but remember that for this base price you can fill up 20-40 pages with a total amount of 160 photos. The price of additional pages – the total of which can reach 400 pages in photo books with regular bindings – is also quite generous, costing just $0.75 per 4 pages. It’s worth mentioning that the smallest 6×6 books cost $21.99 with an extra $0.35 per additional 2 pages.
As for shipping prices, these start from $6.99 per book, which is also quite generous considering that all books ordered from Photobook America are printed and shipped to anywhere in the world within seven business days – out of which the production time takes just 2-3 business days.
And if you still consider these prices too high, there are plenty of permanent and temporary discounts. With these coupons you can save around 70% on the books, have them shipped for free on orders over $75, receive a free sample in advance when having at least 100 items delivered or become eligible for replacement items in case your order arrives damaged.
Support & Shipping
To be honest, Photobook America’s customer support is average, even though it does provide all regular contact methods, such as phone assistance, email and a contact module disguised as live chat. In cases of smaller, less urgent questions the company provides an FAQ, a blog and a quick guide with details about the use of both versions of the software. The company is also present on various social media platforms, but these are mostly used for promoting the newest discount and coupon options, which can even be received via newsletters for that matter.
As for shipping, however, the company does keep its promise of delivering photo books insanely fast – although it’s worth noting that the countdown only starts when the printing of the book begins. But once the process is in progress, things wrap up pretty quickly indeed: it took only three days for our book to be printed and five days (three business days) for DHL to ship our order to its European destination.
In simpler words, Photobook America maintains its promise to ship any photo book to virtually anywhere in the world within seven business days – which is mind-blowing considering that all of Photobook America products are printed overseas. And if that’s not enough, there is even the option to choose priority shipping.
Photobook America is the prime example of a photo printing service that has all the potential to be one of the leaders of the photo printing market. However, due to many annoying mistakes – such as the limitations on styles, some issues with the adjustment of photos in both editors, and the terrible adaptation to mobile platforms – this photo book building company still cannot be called an excellent solution.
Despite that, however, we wouldn’t discourage you from using Photobook America’s services. Quite the contrary, both the online editor and the slightly more advanced desktop program have everything necessary to create the photo book of your dreams within minutes. In addition to that, there are plenty of customization options, especially when it comes to themes, book sizes, and covers. And if that’s not convincing enough, the prices are incredibly cost-friendly, there is insanely fast worldwide shipping, and, of course, the books themselves have outstanding quality.